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Photography JCO

  • For reasons of portability and economy we can eliminate all but the 35 mm cameras. This is not to say that excellent pictures cannot be made with larger cameras. Some of the finest photographs of the mouth that I have ever made, as far as texture and clarity are concerned, were taken with a Graflex, mounted on a massive tripod, using 4″ x 5″ film and lights that heated up both the patient and the operator. Although the results were excellent, the technique was cumbersome and slow.
  • Many of the cameras that are available today for dental photography are modifications of inexpensive commercial cameras. They use a system of rods and frames to establish fixed focussing distances. No doubt many fine photographs have been taken with such equipment, but many others have been missed, cut off or blurred due to basic deficiencies in the system. The main fault is that these are “blind” cameras. You cannot check the framing or the focus of the subject before taking the picture. You have to depend on the rods and frames. In addition, it is impossible to focus on objects deep in the oral cavity because the rods and frames cannot fit in the mouth. For the same reason, mirror pictures are usually guesswork. Any of these “blind” cameras is a specialized camera made or modified for dental photography. This means that the initial cost is unnecessarily high and that servicing must be done by the manufacturer or the modifier of the equipment, usually at high cost


  • In photographing in the mouth, we are actually trying to focus and illuminate tissues inside a cavity. If the light source does not illuminate what the lens sees, our pictures will fail. A ring light is an electronic flash tube, circular in shape, which fits around the lens of the camera. It insures light wherever the lens is pointing. If a separate electronic flash is used on the side of the camera for intraoral work, the cheek or lip may throw a shadow on the area in which we are interested, unless a second light or a mirror is used to balance the lighting. In general, the ring light electronic flash best satisfies our demands in intraoral photography.
  • Additional features
  • In most single lens reflex cameras the screen on which we focus can be changed. Some screens have accessory range-finder focussing devices built into them. Some have focussing prisms, fresnel screens and other devices to help (?) focus and compose the image. I find all devices of this sort distracting in intraoral photography and I use a plain ground glass. Your preference may differ. Since most of these screens are interchangeable, obtain the one that you are most comfortable with. In some cameras the entire ground glass screen is not visible to persons who wear glasses. Other cameras do not have this deficiency. Here again, choose the one most comfortable for you.
  • An automatic lens permits composing and focussing at maximum lens opening for the brightest image, and then automatically closes down to the predetermined aperture when the picture is being taken. This is a great convenience in all types of photography and really a must in intraoral photography.
  • So, our choice of camera seems to be the inexpensive model of a 35 mm single lens reflex camera, with a shutter built into the body, using an automatic lens and ring light electronic flash. We need one further attachment to obtain an adequate image size in intraoral photography. We can achieve this either by using close-up lenses in varying strengths or by increasing the lens-to-film distance with a bellows or extension tubes. Either method gives good results. I prefer close-up lenses for ease of focussing and portability.
  • Finally, the question of what it should cost. A complete arrangement such as described is available for about $150. I have been using such equipment for years with perfectly satisfactory results. There is no reason why you cannot do the same.
  • In future issues this entire subject of intraoral and extraoral photography will be explored in great detail with the object of producing pictures in your office that are accurate, pleasing, and harmonious with the technical excellence and professional competence of your treatment procedures.
  • Remember, it is just as easy to take good pictures as bad ones.

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